Atwater Village - While most people may never have heard of the McKee General Contractor company, Angelenos know the national company by its works: Union Station, the Los Angeles International Airport Theme Building, the federal prison on Terminal Island, and many other significant construction projects in and around the city.
Now the old McKee branch office buildings on the Eastside are lined up to become one of L.A.’s Historical-Cultural Monuments, based solely on the company’s impact on the city landscape.
“The firm’s history tells the account of a labor force that significantly influenced the growth of Los Angeles in the 20th century and has left a lasting impression on the City’s built environment,” according to the application for monument status.
A motion to initiate the nomination was introduced by 13th District City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell last spring, after he noticed an application had been submitted to demolish the building, according to Tony Arranaga, a spokesman with District 13. O’Farrell cross-checked with Survey LA, which lists the building among its historic resources.
Update: The City Council voted in favor of the landmark nomination.
The branch office consists of two commercial buildings - one at 4101 East Goodwin Ave. (completed in 1929); and the other at 4701 N. San Fernando Rd. (built in 1938).
Though both buildings were built in a Spanish Colonial Revival style, they are not being recommended based on historical architecture, since both buildings have been altered and enlarged many times over the years. The Goodwin Avenue building is now twice its original size. And the San Fernando Road building has spread out from its initial 2,900-square feet to more than 12,500-square feet.
Robert Eugene McKee, Sr. founded his own general contracting company in 1913, headquartered in El Paso, Texas. He expanded operations to Southern California in the mid-1920s, and established the Atwater branch office in 1938.
Other McKee projects in the Greater Los Angeles included projects at the Veterans Administration complex in West Los Angeles, the Statler Hotel, UCLA Medical Center, UCLA School of Engineering, the Osteopathic Hospital at the County Hospital facility, the Scottish Rite Cathedral in Pasadena, and the Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Panorama City.